Thursday 31 July 2014

Look before you leap

This holidays period allows me to spend more time reviewing news from all sorts of sources. Given what is happening nationally and globally, there are all sorts of news from all sorts of sources which shape our world views and opinions. Social media and news portals are amongst those sources which are frequently used by many of us.

Considering the responses and comments made by readers to messages and news available on these platforms, I am quite concern that many of us take these news and information on face value, do not understand the background of the sources, may not be able to comprehend the context and are trigger happy in responding.

While slowly we are getting used to deal with instantaneous flow of information and are expected (especially by our bosses) to react in similar fashion as well, we may have not developed the skills of comprehending information of such nature. This creates the risks that our instantaneous response may not reflect our thorough thoughts and views. Remember, once you press the RETURN button on your computers or smartphones, your views, thoughts or even LIKES are electronically captured. Even if you decide to delete or remove them later, somebody, somewhere could have gotten the records (especially Big Daddy).

I suppose remembering and applying the old wisdom of "Looking before you leap" remains relevant if not more crucial in the world where the flow of information is unfiltered and the sources may not be reflective of realities.

You may want to consider the following tips:

Diversify our sources of information

Different sources of information have different ways of reporting, sharing and more importantly angles to the issues being reported. By having wider sources, we should be able to sense the general views and direction of the issues. Relying on a single information point will expose you to rely on bias views or angles.

Understand the context

Context will add value to facts that you are considering. A child who cries over a prolonged period could be considered a nuisance until we know that both parents had just passed away. The more you understand the background of an issue, you would be able to have more sense of the information which you are considering.

Take a 20,000 feet view

Before forming your views, step back and look at the big picture. Remember when you are on a flight, at 40,000 feet you may see nothing, when the aircraft lands, your views are limited to thing that are in front of you. However, at 20,000 feet or thereabout, you are able to see bigger picture of the terrain below you. The challenge is to decide how wide the perspective should be and how much details you need before making a decision.

The source of information may be bias

If you watch different news channels, you may find that their coverage could differ even when reporting on the same event. Inherently, people are bias towards what they believe (or told to believe) what is true. If we do not filter this, we will be sucked into their game plan. Even on social media, this is also relevant. Be careful in believing hot news or interesting photos as many may not even be true. I am not surprised that some news portals in Malaysia are paid to side a certain group of people in certain issues. Are they the "information age mercenaries"?

Think before you share your thoughts

While people are free to share their views and opinions, it is worthy to consider what you are saying or writing to ensure you are not far off from truth. Given the ways social media works, for example, once information is released from you side, there is no turning back. As the new saying goes, there is no delete button on internet. What more when, due to your enthusiasm to share you views and thoughts, you are alienating many good friends of yours, both in the real world and the virtual world.

I am sure there are more issues to consider before we act but I believe the able are sufficient guidance to ensure the rest of the world are not laughing at us when we have not done enough before pressing the RETURN button on our keyboards.

No comments: